Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Council Approves Glassy 18-Story Hotel in Downtown Flushing

The city’s Economic Development Corporation gave developer Richard Xia approval to build his 18-story Eastern Mirage tower at 42-31 Union Street in downtown Flushing. It is slated to house an upscale Element by Westin extended stay hotel with 161 rooms, as well as the nine-story North Queens Medical Center. The hotel and medical facility are slated to open in late 2014 and will create nearly 200 construction jobs, with the building’s foundation already 70 percent complete.

Xia, who purchased the property for $17 million, plans to build about 40 medical suites inside the 44,000-square-foot North Queens Medical Center, according to Vincent Petraro, the zoning and land use attorney representing Xia. Nearly 250 new jobs would be created.

“In the last few years, Queens has lost at least four hospitals,” Petraro said. “There is a need for medical space in this area and throughout Queens.”

Xia is also seeking permission to build to 243 feet, which is the maximum height the Federal Aviation Administration allows. The FAA and Port Authority have already approved the height.

Some of the conditions the community board voted on include having the developer provide 300 paid, public parking spaces and a guest shuttle from the hotel to Main Street. The hotel also cannot offer catering, a restaurant or liquor, the board said.

The hotel and medical facility are slated to open in late 2014, Xia said. His company is in talks to with local hospitals to partner for the medical center — a project that was stalled for years due to the recession.

Xia said the 161-unit hotel, equipped with kitchens, and would be a boon to Flushing — especially as tourists flood the area each year for the U.S. Open.

Neighbors of the site said construction has ruined their quality of life and caused the foundation of their century-old apartment building to crack. They have an ongoing petition against the next-door tower with 32 signatures so far. “Since the project started, everybody’s life is miserable,” said neighbor Erica Brassoi. “They’re destroying everybody’s life.”

Xia, who lives and works in Flushing, agreed to delay morning construction by 30 minutes. He also offered to pay for the demolition of a neighboring church, which is slated to undergo its own expansion project.